The warm and fuzzy images of sheep and cows VS the reality of life on an animal farm

Common sense in agriculture

By Ann Britton

‘Be transparent, they say’

We’d love to be,  but what happens if we put up a video where it may look like things went wrong? We, the farmers, are the first to be put under fire and labelled cruel. If everything in the video or photo isn’t all warm and fuzzy, will people say “oh gee, what happened there, that doesn’t look like it went to plan, hope it ended AOK for the animals and yourselves? Or …will the viewer suddenly claim to be an expert on farming practices and put us in the “all farmers are cruel” box?  It can be frustrating to see many properties do not allow any footage to be taken by their employees (rightly so) but it also means our story isn’t being told. 

Common sense on a farm

When you are dealing with numerous animals in a farm environment, a lot of common sense is at play. You also need to be well versed in animal husbandry practices and have experience. You can read textbooks until the cows come home, you can be guided by them and you can try your utmost to make sure that your animals are treated in the best possible way. Any farmer worth their salt treats their animals with the best animal welfare standards, it is their business to do so. According to Wikipedia the definition of common sense is sound, practical judgement concerning everyday matters. 

Farming is a business

Yes, we make money from our animals, and this is one of the reasons we always try to implement the best care practices. The other reason is we are extremely proud to be professionals in our field. We are professional animal welfare people, and we are professional environmentalists, if we don’t tend to the soil, the quality of the animal’s life will be reduced. 

How many people know or have a connection to a farmer?

The majority of the Australian population are based in metropolitan cities and do not have a personal connection to those living in rural Australia. How can they criticise what we do? Do they know how to monitor the soil to ensure it remains in the best condition for decades to come? Will the standard on-farm practices be judged straight away by those who have no prior connection to the industry? As professional farmers, we know that most of the time, things do go according to plan. Planning is in fact a key part of the role. It is our responsibility to deal with the domesticated and native animals along with the unpredictable weather of the land and we are proud to do it. 

The circle of life

Farmers are down to earth people with plenty of common sense. Often living thousands of kilometres from metropolitan cities,  learning to think on their feet is a necessary skill as helo could be hours away if it was needed. Farmers are happy to explain their practices to those who have no connection to the land or the industry. Nature, in its raw survival mode, can be a force to be reckoned with, and this includes what daily life is like on the farm. If you have a question, the best way to understand it is to find someone in the industry to answer your question.